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Biden administration taps Towson University graduate as acting surgeon general

Towson University alum Rear Adm. Susan Orsega has been tapped by President Joe Biden’s team to serve as the nation’s acting surgeon general, one of the first nurses to hold the position, albeit temporarily.

Orsega, a nurse practitioner, has directed the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps headquarters in the Office of the Surgeon General since 2019, according to the American Association for Nurse Practitioners, overseeing corps personnel, operations and deployment functions.

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Orsega’s appointment as acting surgeon general would bridge the gap until the Senate holds confirmation hearings for Biden’s official nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served in the role under former President Barack Obama.

The surgeon general often issues public health information to Americans and oversees more than 6,000 uniformed public health officers in the federal government.

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Although Biden has yet to announce her appointment, Orsega was listed as acting surgeon general on the Department of Health and Human Services’ official website.

Orsega is also the principal adviser to the surgeon general on the training and deployment of Commissioned Corps members, who “serve throughout the nation, including in communities most in need, by providing essential public health, health care and other services,” according to the government’s website.

Prior to that role, she served as chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, and has “distinguished public health emergency and disaster care experience” working in nursing and leadership roles during 15 national and international disaster and humanitarian missions, according to her bio.

Her bio says she had managed international research and government partnerships at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — where she helped play a role in the response to Ebola — before serving as chief nurse officer

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The Towson alumna earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1990 and Master of Science from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Nurse Practitioner program.

She received the Dean’s Recognition Award from the College of Health Professions in 2018, the university said in a release.

Towson University President Kim Schatzel in a statement said she can think of “no better representation at this critical juncture in our nation’s history than in Susan Orsega’s appointment.”

Orsega, who was a member of Towson’s track and field team as a student, addressed a nursing leadership and management class in 2016, telling students at the time her experience at Towson served as “the steppingstones to my career,” setting her up for success, according to a Towson news release.

Previously, St. Mary’s County native and University of Maryland, Baltimore County graduate Jerome Adams served as surgeon general under former President Donald Trump. Adams resigned last week.

Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz chose to retire after being passed over as acting surgeon general, The Washington Post reported.

Tribune Content Agency contributed to this article.

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